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How is Your Practice Comeback Going?

Posted on May 14, 2020 by Lori Boyer

    Learn about our practice comeback planI'm sure you've heard all about our 2020 Practice Comeback Plan. We have spent countless hours talking with our customers, researching the latest data and information, reaching out to contacts in the industry, and conferring with experts to bring to you this plan. In addition to a four part webinar series, we have also put together our Practice Comeback Playbook. This is an awesome resource that you can use to make sure you're keeping up with the changing landscape of our healthcare industry. Today, I am sharing parts of Phase II. This is the "Ready to Reopen" portion. We know that many of you are in the thick of this phase (or soon to be here...we hope!). Here is the latest information on this topic.

    PHASE II: Ready for Reopen
    1. Prepare your office. The demand for treatment will be high when your practice reopens. You’ll want to make sure your office is clean, organized, and ready to rock ‘n roll when you re-open. Cleaning and disinfecting will continue throughout a typical day.
      • Prepare treatment rooms: Follow counsel of CDC, WHO, state and local officials and national associations (ADA, AOA, AMA)
      • Prepare waiting room: Deep clean tables, chairs, door handles, magazines, clipboards, front office counter
      • Test and clean equipment: Test all necessary equipment needed for treatment.
      • Consider designating a roving “sanitization technician” responsible for constant sanitization of areas of concern.
    2. Make necessary physical changes. Your practice may not look the same way that it did prior toPortrait of happy female patient showing thumbs up sign while standing with doctor in clinic COVID-19. Things you may need to change include:
      • If you must keep your waiting room open, add plexiglass to separate reception area from patients
      • Use contactless payment via text message or over phone
      • Go paperless. Use virtual forms (no clipboards or pens!)
      • Remove all non-essential items. Flyers, brochures, displays, toys, magazines, etc.
    3. Keep the supply closet stocked.
      • PPE should be stocked and ready!
      • Determine the amount of supplies needed per patient and only schedule the number of patients you can safely serve
      • Do not have supplies delivered inside practice but meet delivery person outside.
      • Sanitize new supplies.
    4. Communicate, communicate, communicate! It is better to OVER communicate than run the risk of not communicating enough.
      • Share safety and health changes with patients via newsletter, email, and social media 
      • Explain how PPE works to every patient 
      • ALWAYS ask for feedback or concerns
    5. Schedule time for employee concerns. Regularly ask staff members...How can we make you feel safer?
      • Determine if you have high-risk employees and adjust schedules accordingly
      • Develop rules for sick staff members-check for fever multiple times a day
      • Conduct frequent staff meetings to discuss unforeseen issues
      • Hold regular 1:1s with individuals
      • Allow reasonable flexibility with schedules
    6. Determine patient priority. You need to take some time to consider your patient population during this time. You may want to adjust the way you see patients based on these needs. Hopefully you created a group to communicate with these priority patients during the previous phase. That will enable you to reach out easily. The key here is to make sure you have your game plan ready to go PRIOR to letting the floodgates open. That way you will be able to keep confusion to a minimum.
      • Consider dedicating specific days to only treating patients at high risk for COVID-19 such as the elderly where you can take strong precautions to lower the risk. Communicate this information to your full patient base via email, text, and phone.
      • We recommend that you keep current appointments on the schedule and then work those overdue patients in to the schedule based on who has been waiting the longest or has the most
      • Online schedulingurgent needs.
      • Share priority information with patients. Let them know the order in which you will see patients. If you have a large flood of patients wanting to be seen, this will reduce some of the frustration.
    7. Develop and implement new processes. 
      • Modify patient check-in procedure
      • Decide WHO may attend visit
      • Close office to sales people or deliveries
      • Ask patients to wear face coverings wherever possible
    8. Create procedures for currently (or previously) ill patients. 
      • Ask every patient if they tested positive for, or currently have symptoms of, COVID-19 before visit.
      • Take temperature of patient in car before visit (even dental or vision) and adjust approach if patient has fever (cancel non-critical visits).
      • Receive physician-issued documentation of full COVID-19 recovery before seeing patient in non-critical specialty.
    9. Adjust your scheduling processes. We recommend waiting until you are closer to a reopen date to reschedule patients. For now, cancel appointments one week at a time. Once it is time to reopen, we recommend keeping any current appointments as-is rather than rescheduling them.

      In other words, if you had patients already on the schedule when it is time to reopen, go ahead and leave those. You can then work in the patients who missed appointments wherever possible. Please note: due to a high demand, it is likely you may need to offer extended hours and weekends to provide care to overdue patients. Here are a few tips for getting your schedule ready:
      • Stagger appointments. Do NOT stack!
      • Consider adding 5-10 minutes between appointments.
      • Keep patients physically apart (minimum six feet at all times). For example, dentists may consider only using chairs 1-3-5.
      • Be flexible with cancellation policies and fees.
    10. Let patients know you are reopening. Only when all processes are in place should you announce that you are reopening. Send a message via text and email to let patients know that you are reopening and what the date will be. Include information on how to schedule an appointment and your current priorities for scheduling. Share this same information on social media. You can include a link to your online scheduling platform if you have one. Looking at tablet
    11. Make sure your reminder cadence is set up. If you have automated reminders of any type that have been shut off, turn them back on. Data has shown that the most effective way to do this is with a 3-week, 3-day, and 3-hour cadence. Until you have caught up on some of the missed appointments, you may want to turn off the weekly reminder and just keep your daily and hourly reminder.
    12. Set up a COVID-19 prescreening form. It is highly likely that your office will reopen while COVID-19 is still being monitored. To prevent its spread and to save your staff and patients time, create a virtual patient check-in experience that includes COVID-19 pre-screening questions.
    13. Add pre-visit instructions. If you have been completely closed and did not create pre-visit instructions, make sure you do so now. The demand for treatment will be high when your practice reopens. Using a virtual check-in process (for Solutionreach customers, that would be through SR Intake) will allow you to work more efficiently and see more patients per day.

    For more specific information on Phases I and III, you can download the full guide here. Today, I will be joining some of my colleagues to bring to you a webinar where we address the many, many questions we've received from other practices like yours. While you may be cutting it close to join the webinar live (it is at 11am and 2pm Mountain), I invite you to go ahead and register anyway. We will send you a link to listen to it later. I want you to know that I know how tough things have been and I am really rooting you on! I know this may sound cheesy, but I just have to say that you are incredible and I am so proud to be associated with you. 
    Link to register if you are in the vision or medical specialties:

    Register Now

    Link to register if you are in the dental industry:

    Register Now

    Lori Boyer

    Lori Boyer

    Lori Boyer has spent over a decade developing content and customer strategy for a wide variety of companies. She especially loves "walking a mile" in the shoes of her target audience. At Solutionreach we focus on relationships - building and maintaining them. She does the same. Lori Boyer is a lover of crisp fall mornings, a good book, and just about anything Beauty and the Beast related.

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